an Irish-American point of view, one of the unfortunate
by-products of 9/11 was watching so many here in the
States run for cover. Web sites were taken down, Irish
bulletin boards were removed from computer "favorites"
lists, and overnight the initials IRA meant Individual
Retirement Account instead of, well, you-know-what.
I believe it was Thomas Paine who coined the phrases
"summer soldier" and "sunshine patriot",
and I suppose these titles are fitting enough for
some of those who drifted away during that time.
is nothing more worthless than an unexpressed opinion.
Somebody has to be brave and say it first, or do something
about it first. However, many times those who do so
suffer the rest of their lives (e.g., M. M. O'Hare
and her First Amendment battle against school prayer).
Other times sticking one's head up and stating an
opinion gives courage to others who feel the same
way but were afraid to speak.
have no idea or opinion on whether or not the current
#1 suspect in the anthrax case is guilty or innocent,
but things he said or did years ago are being dredged
up as "evidence", whether or not those actions
were sinister-appearing at that time. This, in combination
with new legislation and the State Department taking
for itself the "right" to unilaterally decide
who is a terrorist and who is not, will have a further
chilling effect on dissent here.
of this brings me around to making comment on the
Republican Movement in Ireland, and how they are not
only not helping but actually hurting the movement
here. The internet, which might have been God's gift
to dissidents, has instead become a curse. The Irish
[message] boards are being used to express opinions
that have nothing whatsoever to do with achieving
a 32-county independent Ireland, and which have a
negative impact on our ability to regroup here.
of bringing us all together, these opinions are driving
a wedge between Ireland and America. Starting just
a few hours from the 9/11 attacks, postings began
showing up on the Irish boards stating "the U.S.
had it coming," and so on. Whether or not we
"had it coming", so stating on a public
forum while the buildings were still burning wasn't
the wisest idea if one wants to encourage American
support for Irish freedom, not to mention encouraging
Americans to speak out against their government at
took a week for Republican Sinn Fein to issue a brief
statement expressing concern for its New York supporters
and for the lives of the police and firefighters lost
in the attack. I saw nothing posted from the other
groups. For nearly a year, the boards have been filled
with pro-Arab, anti-Israeli, anti-American statements.
does any of this have to do with Irish freedom? Is
the Republican Movement so lacking in momentum that
it has to resort to outside issues? Is it now the
case that working for a 32-county Ireland just isn't
enough? That it is also necessary to be socialist
Founding Fathers obviously viewed freedom of speech
as vital, to the point it was part of the very first
amendment to the Constitution. It is vital, and it
is the right from which all other rights flow. But
rights should be used wisely - I have the right to
walk through Central Park at 3 in the morning, but
it probably isn't a good idea. For 150 years, Americans
supported the movement without question. Perhaps it
is time that the R/M learned support is a two-way
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